Edited by Brittany Clingen
The Mississippi Legislature made history by referring a dueling measure to the ballot in response to a citizen initiative, a move some fear will lead to voter confusion at the ballot box. In Nevada, signature requirement challenges have complicated the progress of a local measure seeking to prevent a city subsidy for the construction of a soccer stadium.
Dueling measures to appear on Mississippi ballot:
For the first time in state history, the Mississippi Legislature chose to place a competing measure on the ballot in response to an initiative from citizens that is seeking to require the state government to establish, maintain and support "an adequate and efficient system of free public schools" and give the Mississippi Chancery Courts the power to enforce the amendment's mandate if the legislature fails to do so. Initiative 42 was certified for the November 2015 ballot on December 19, 2014, after supporters successfully collected and submitted 116,570 valid signatures, approximately 9,000 more than the number required.
Less than a month later, legislators countered with their own version, Alternative 42, which, upon voter approval, would require the state legislature to establish, maintain and support "an effective system of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may prescribe." Unlike Initiative 42, Alternate 42 does not empower the judiciary to enforce the amendment's mandate, provide for "an adequate... system of free public schools," nor inscribe a "fundamental right to educational opportunity" for each child in the Mississippi Constitution.
"With HCR9, [the Alternative 42 measure,] focus is on educational output and accomplishments, not just funding for the sake of funding. The operative word in the alternative is effective. We want schools that are accomplishing something. We want schools that are effective," said State Speaker of the House Philip Gunn (R-56).
Those who support Initiative 42 - and, therefore, oppose Alternative 42 - are concerned the dueling questions will confuse voters, potentially leading both measures to defeat at the ballot box. Come November, voters will first be asked whether they prefer "either measure" or "neither measure," and then whether they prefer Initiative 42 or Alternative 42. If a simple majority prefers “either measure,” then the amendment receiving a simple majority vote will become law.
The Mississippi Legislature has never proposed a competing measure to an initiative, despite having the power to do so. According to House Education Committee Chairman John Moore (R-60), 2015 will be the first time legislators utilize this power.
- ↑ WLOX, "MAEP vote headed to 2015 General Election ballot," December 19, 2014
- ↑ Mississippi Legislature, "House Concurrent Resolution 9," accessed January 14, 2015
- ↑ SunHerald, "Mississippi House passes alternative to school funding ballot initiative," January 13, 2015
- ↑ GulfLive.com, "AP analysis: Initiative 42 and Initiative 42-A could neutralize Mississippi education funding issue," January 18, 2015
- ↑ Hattiesburg America, "Analysis: School budget prop could get alternative," November 30, 2014
- See also: School bond and tax elections in Nevada
In Nevada, a bond election is mandated if a school district needs to exceed the fifteen percent debt limit set by Nevada law. Also, if a school district wants to issue bonding to build new facilities or improve existing ones, voter approval is required. Nevada is a initiative and referendum state that requires a citizen petition before any ballot measure can be placed.
County and municipal requirements
For county and municipal initiatives, any five registered voters of the county or city may file an affidavit with the Clerk establishing a petitioner's committee, making them responsible for circulating the petition and filing it in the proper form. The affidavit must also contain the full text of the proposed initiative ordinance or cite the ordinance sought to be reconsidered, along with a 200 word or less description of the effect of the petition.
Initiative petitions must be signed by a number of registered voters equal to at least 15% of the voter turnout at the preceding general county election or city election. Referendum petitions must be signed by a number of registered voters equal to at least 10% of the voter turnout at the preceding general county election or city election.
Initiative and referendum petitions must be submitted to the respective clerks for verification no later than 180 days after the date the affidavit was filed or 130 days before the election, whichever is earlier.